Alisondra Maykranz

Research Associate

Ambassador Samantha Power: Inspiring U.S. Leadership in the UN

Vice President Biden swears in Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Last night I watched a really great TED talk by Simon Sinek, called "How Great Leaders Inspire Action." The argument Mr. Sinek makes is that effective leaders inspire change not by focusing on what they do, but by focusing on why they do it. To back up his argument, Sinek cites incredibly influential leaders throughout history, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Wright brothers. These leaders changed the course of history because they focused first on the motivation behind their actions and let the outcomes be a byproduct of that motivation.

The talk ultimately made me think of a young American leader who was recently confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Samantha Power. During this time when the UN faces many difficult issues, I can think of no one better to head U.S. leadership at the UN, largely because of the passion Ambassador Power brings to the issues she confronts. President Obama recognizes this passion, and he said in a statement following the Senate confirmation, "As a long-time champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests." Having been a foreign policy columnist, Ambassador Power has seen human rights abuses, genocide, and war from the frontlines — first-hand experiences that reaffirm her passion for the "responsibility to protect."

Celebrating International Justice Day

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda

Today being International Justice Day, I wanted to write a post about the International Criminal Court, but in light of the closure of the George Zimmerman trial, I feel that this piece wouldn't be complete without relating the issue of international justice to our own issues of domestic justice.

I am not alone in my disappointment in and sadness of the outcome of the Zimmerman trial. I believe that it demonstrates that the U.S. justice system is flawed, despite its centuries-long evolution and opportunity to reform. That said, public displeasure is a clear signal that our country believes in the principle of justice and wants to see it enforced.

Unfortunately, public interest is often too narrowly focused on domestic issues. However, this does not reduce the importance of ensuring justice for all peoples. Thankfully, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established just over a decade ago in order to administer justice for the world's gravest crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Climate Change: An Opportunity for a 'New Era of Relations'

Photo by National Geographic Channels/ Rob Taylor

U.S. relations with Latin America have not always been exemplary, but climate change is an issue that presents an opportunity for the U.S. to cooperate with its southern neighbors and to provide the leadership that such a global threat requires.

According to the Pew Research Center data cited in Harrison’s blog, Latin America as a whole is a region very concerned with climate change. In each of the seven Latin American countries polled, climate change was the most widely recognized threat. Sixty-five percent of Latin Americans identify climate change as a threat to their respective countries, compared to 40 percent of people in the United States. In Brazil the percentage is as high as 76, and Argentina is not far behind at 71 percent. Furthermore, not a single Latin American country reported numbers below 50 percent. Even in the oil-rich country of Venezuela, 53 percent of the public recognizes climate change as a threat. This is significant considering that oil-exporting countries generally resist the implications of climate change.

A 2012 study by the World Bank shows that Latin America is at greater risk to the dangers of climate change than most of the world. To make matters worse, many regions within Latin America have insufficient capability to cope with these potentially devastating effects of climate change.